October Madness

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In the middle of March Madness, it’s time to consider October Madness.  Since I now believe that with analytics running (perhaps, ruining) baseball, I could probably be a major league manager.  After all, there is no more arguing calls (replays take care of that); pitching changes are determined by computer; and even lineups can be best created by what the statistics tell us.  So with all the human element being taken out of the game, there will still be baseball played this week and, therefore, the need (after all, I have to fill my blog) with a human prognostication.  Here is how I see the teams finishing in their divisions with no help from any superhuman source:

American League 

West

  1. Houston – They Astros did not repeat as World Series champions last year because the Red Sox knocked them out in the ALCS. Again, much like last year, most of their lineup returns.  They win the West again.
  2. LA Angels – Mike Trout is now the highest paid athlete in sports history and will be an Angel until 2030. Japan’s Shohel Ohtani had Tommy John surgery and will be out for part of the season and that hurts them on the mound and in the lineup since he pitches and  They did improve their pitching staff.  So at the very least, this team will be fun to watch and could surprise.
  3. Oakland – This team was in the Wild Card game and lost to the Yankees. They are young, had a great end-of-season last year, and are loaded with confidence.  Only an “iffy” pitching staff could keep them from a successful year.
  4. Seattle – The Mariners do not raise expectations much anymore and they seem to be beginning to realize it. They made nine trades in the off season and are beginning their climb back.  It will take awhile.
  5. Texas Rangers – A new manager, very young players, and an absence of strong pitching will put the Rangers in the basement.

Central

  1. Cleveland – This is a team with a little less power than last year, but they will win this Division again. Now the question is whether they can compete with the Yankees, Red Sox, and Astros in the postseason. Plus, they are very, very strong in the pitching department.  Cleveland fans can’t wait for the NFL, but should have fun in the meantime.
  2. Minnesota – Rocco Baldelli at 37-years of age is the youngest manager in the majors. They also have a very young baseball team.  There is certainly potential here and they could actually challenge the Indians.  This will be one of the more interesting teams to watch.
  3. Chicago White Sox – They tried and lost. No Machado; no Harper. They have had six straight losing seasons.  They have a very exciting player in Eloy Jiminez who will break into the majors on opening day.  They are looking to improve and, perhaps, have a winning season. This team has potential and could surprise.
  4. Kansas City – They got rid of most of the older players and have lost 100 games each of the last two seasons. There is some enthusiasm about improvement and the Royals do look like they will be better.
  5. Detroit – 98 losses each of the last two years. This team is not good and rebuilding.  Enough said.

East

  1. Boston – They won the World Series last year and still everyone is picking the Yankees to win the East this year. The Red Sox have the same team back and if they can overcome complacency, I am picking them to beat the Yankees again.
  2. New York Yankees – Can they hit enough homers to win it all? They hit 267 last year and that was a major league record.  Judge, Stanton, and Sanchez will continue to bash the baseball.  They have plenty of injuries to start the season.  I can’t pick them to win the division.
  3. Tampa Bay – They won 90 games a year ago to everyone’s surprise, and still did not make the playoffs. That could happen to them again.  Remember, they won 41 games after the All-Star break. If this team gets off to a much better start this year, they could be the surprise of the majors.
  4. Toronto – They are rebuilding and are enthusiastic about their future. Their future is not this year.
  5. Baltimore – Major rebuilding going on here. Their better days are way ahead of them.

The Red Sox will win the American League pennant. 

National League 

West

  1. LA Dodgers – No World Series again last year. It was the Astros two years ago and the Red Sox last year.  The Dodgers are still loaded with talent.  Their pitching is second to none in the National League.  The only deterrent might be history – the Dodgers have never made it to three World Series in a row.
  2. Colorado – This team experienced back-to-back playoff appearances. They have a stable lineup and a manager who will be around at least until 2022.  If the Dodgers suffer a letdown, the Rockies are ready to pounce on them.  They have been in the postseason two years straight – 2019 will be three.
  3. San Diego – Can Manny Machado bring the first major sports championship ever to San Diego? The fans think so.  Ticket sales skyrocketed after he signed.  The rest of the team is young and talented.  The Padres are a sleeper and Machado might just be the key to awakening them.
  4. Arizona – This might be the best 4th-place division team in the majors. They did lose four of their top players and one would have every right to think they will struggle.
  5. San Francisco – This is manager Bruce Bochy’s last year and the players will play extra hard for him, one would think. Injuries killed the Giants last year, but Madison Bumgarner and Buster Posey start the season healthy so that makes the Giants much better.  Cinderella year for Bochy?

Central

  1. Chicago Cubs – Joe Madden is in the final year of his contract and the Cubs have not yet offered an extension. The players love Joe and love what he has created in Chicago.  They did not make any major moves over the winter, but they are still a very good team.  They will win the Central Division again.
  2. St Louis – There is a buzz about the Brewers, but I like the Cardinals again in this spot. They did get better in the season acquiring Paul Goldschmidt and Andrew Miller.  This team will give the Cubs a run for the title.
  3. Milwaukee – What am I doing? The Brewers won the Division last year and Christian Yelich was the NL MVP.  This is a very tough division all the way down the line.  I am not feeling good putting them third.
  4. Cincinnati – The Reds picked up the Dodgers’ Yasiel Puig and that is a nice addition. They, also, got Matt Kemp and Alex Wood.  So their rebuilding came quickly.  The Reds will be better in a tough division.
  5. Pittsburgh – The Pirates had a winning season last year. Their pitching staff has talent and youth.  Excitement in Pittsburgh has waned, however.  This is a decent team in with better than decent teams.

East

  1. Philadelphia – No excuses this year. The Phils spent the money and put the pieces in place.  The six years of consecutive losing seasons should come to an end in a big way.  Harper, Realmuto, McCutcheon, and Robertson make them a much better team and, most feel, the best in the East.  Is manager Gabe Kapler the only real question mark?
  2. WashingtonNo Bryce Harper! And they missed the playoffs last year with him. With that said, they still have one of the best pitching rotations in baseball.  This team would like nothing better than to win the East without Harper.  Great incentive.
  3. Atlanta – They were a total surprise last year winning the East. Now, no one is talking about them again because of what happened in the division with the other teams.  The Braves won 90 games last year and they firmly believe they are even better this year.  I really misjudged them last year.  I hope I’m right this year.
  4. NY Mets – I don’t know – Don’t the Mets have high expectations every year, only to falter? They added five former All-Stars and have a strong starting rotation.  But they are the Mets, after all!
  5. Miami – Derek Jeter’s problems continue. The Marlins have had 10 losing seasons in a row.  Their pitching staff is very young, but talented.  They will lose games because they cannot score.  That problem will continue.

The Phillies will win the N L pennant. 

The Red Sox will win it all, again! (Although I hope the Phils win).

 

ABOVE THE EARS (SOME MUSINGS) 

  1. I bet your bracket-busting heart stopped in the final seconds of the Duke-UCF game on Sunday. How did Aubrey Dawkins miss the tip-in?  He made almost every shot all day, but not that one.  Is that the win Duke needed to go all the way?
  1. Okay – Tacko Fall is a freak of nature. The 7’6” center for UCF made my jaw drop.  I have seen plenty of basketball in my life, but nothing like him.  If not for four fouls and a phantom call, perhaps UCF wins the game.  I just could not believe how he dunks the ball without getting more than a couple of inches off the floor.  Marketing people should get him to change his name to Tacko Bell and show him next to the Chihuahua while eating tacos.  Genius, right?
  1. Zion Williamson of Duke is the best player in college basketball and should be the #1 pick in the NBA draft. He had 32 points on Sunday and his last field goal was over Tacko Fall and, also, fouled out the giant.  He, too, is a phenom.
  1. The #2 pick in the NBA draft should be Ja Morant of Murray State. He is a great shooter (24.4 points per game) and an even better passer (10.2 assists per game).  No college player has ever achieved double digit points and assist averages for a season.  In the first-round game against Marquette, he had a triple double – points, assists, and rebounds.  He was responsible for 63% of his team’s points.
  1. Congratulations to the Bethlehem Catholic girls, head coach Jose Medina, and the assistant coaches. They won their second state championship in three years and are heavy favorites to do it again next year!  No one could represent our area any better.

 

 

 

 

Gary Laubach About Gary Laubach

Gary began his broadcasting career with Twin County in 1972. Twin County eventually became C-TEC and then RCN. Gary holds the dual role of Director of Media Services and Sports Director/Broadcaster. He currently broadcasts about 140 sports and entertainment broadcasts a year, and oversees the scheduling of all sporting events for RCN.

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